Devil Dish: July 23

The Arizona Cardinals will be the first team in the National Football League to report to training camp when they travel to Flagstaff on July 23.

Because they were selected to play in the NFL Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game of the year, the Cardinals are reporting to Flagstaff a week earlier than normal.

After last year’s strong finish (7-2 in the last nine games) and a full offseason to prepare with new players on both offense and defense, the Cardinals are poised to make a run at the NFC West title.

With a shortened offseason to adjust to the scheme of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Cardinals defense started the 2011 season a little rocky, but it got considerably better as the season went along.

The veteran leadership of safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes coupled with a full offseason to study Horton’s scheme, will allow the defense to be a strong point for the 2012 Cardinals.

One of the issues that has plagued the Cardinals the past few years is the quarterback position.

Arizona thought that they had their quarterback of the future after acquiring Kevin Kolb in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. But, after concussion issues sidelined Kolb for half of the 2011 season, John Skelton stepped in and went 6-2 as the starter.

So, yet again the Cardinals are faced with a situation at quarterback in which no one is the clear-cut starter. Kolb will get a chance to be the guy at first, but shaky play could result in his benching.

Those sort of things tend to work their way out, and with the way the Cardinals defense in shaping up, Arizona won’t need a dominant offense to compete.